Daf James’s Llwyth (Tribe), first staged in 2010, was a sensation. Following a group of four gay men – Aneurin, Rhys, Gareth and Dada – on a night out in Cardiff, it announced James as a major new voice, and pioneered a bold new Welsh-language theatrical vernacular. Like Angels in America and The Inheritance, it could now be considered an epic gay drama in two parts as Tylwyth (Kin) revisits the foursome a decade later. Much has changed in the city as well as for Aneurin (Simon Watts), newly a father and faithfully partnered to Dan (Martin Thomas).
The lyricism of the text reaffirms James’s status as one of Wales’s most exciting playwrights. Aneurin’s cartographic and promiscuous lyricism – mapping Cardiff as well as his own desires – is frequently beguiling. The text is often beautiful, and Tom Rogers’s revolved set of half-circles fluidly charts the landscape.
It’s performed by a game cast. Michael Humphreys and Danny Grehan return as Gareth and the paternal Dada, while Arwel Davies and a standout Aled ap Steffan step into the roles of Rhys and Gavin. Arwel Gruffydd again directs, and it is a production that is very much a crowd-pleaser, despite the darker turns of its drama.
And there is a lot of drama. Tylwyth deals with a gamut of issues pertinent to the LGBTQ community – mental health, addiction, sexual assault, chemsex, domestic violence, marriage and adoption. The breadth is occasionally at the expense of dramatic depth. But for every conversation that is a digest for a straight audience, there are moments of graceful power: a quiet, late disclosure by Dada, as articulated for the first time in a Welsh play, feels genuinely significant.
Its ending is a long time coming, but the almost masque-like finale is undeniably reassuring about community, progress and the future.
At the Sherman theatre, Cardiff, until 13 March, then touring until 4 April.